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'Surreal and a little bit bittersweet': Regina's 2nd female Indigenous officer set to retire

When Sgt. Sonya Roteliuk first joined the Regina Police Service 25 years ago, she was one of only two Indigenous females on the force. Now as she gets set to retire, she reflects on the change she has seen over the years.

Sgt. Sonya Roteliuk reflects on her start in policing and changes over 25 years

Sgt. Sonya Roteliuk, Regina Police Service's second-ever Indigenous female officer, is retiring after 25 years spent with the police. (Submitted photo)

When Sgt. Sonya Roteliuk first joined the Regina Police Service 25 years ago, she was one of only two Indigenous females on the force.

Now as she gets set to retire, she reflects that she has seen a lot of change, with younger recruits coming in with more education around topics like diversity and inclusion, and a greater emphasis laid on community policing.

She believes police are more visible at community events, which is paying off with trust.

"I see people are more willing to come and speak to police," she told CBC Saskatchewan's Afternoon Edition.

Peacemaker of her family

It was Roteliuk's mother and brother who first suggested she become a police officer, at a time when she was looking for a new career.

It was, after all, the sort of role she naturally filled in her household, with two older brothers who would get into regular fights.

"If they were getting into it, I wasn't shy to get in the middle and break them up, try to keep them in line," she recalled with a chuckle.

She would follow up on her family's suggestion to become an officer and said that over the years, she worked to build relationships between police and the community, including her fellow First Nations people.

Now looking back, she said it's hard to believe her days as an officer are coming to an end.

"It's kind of surreal and a little bit bittersweet," Roteliuk said, explaining the bitterness came from the fact her mother passed away just a few weeks ago.  

"This was everything she looked forward to. [I] did it all because of her and couldn't have done it without her," she said.

"But I know she's proud."

With files from CBC's Afternoon Edition